Universal York

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York County’s large Alms House was built around 1805

An 1830 view of the Almshouse buildings by William Wagner
An 1830 view of the Almshouse buildings by William Wagner

Pleasant Acres, the York County Nursing and Rehab Center, is well respected in its field. It evolved from the York County Almshouse, but it is, thankfully, far removed from that institution today.

The Almshouse, built around 1805 and located at the foot of Broad Street, wasn’t all that pleasant in 1878, even though it had recently undergone renovations. The first part of a lengthy article from the March 12, 1878 York Gazette about the Almshouse and the renovations is below:

THE ALMS-HOUSE–A visit to the Alms-house under the most favorable circumstances, at any time, is unpleasant, when we consider that adversity is the mother of its creation; but when we look at the means employed and consider the methods devised to mitigate the misfortunes of those who are, temporarily or otherwise, compelled to accept public charity, the unpleasant feeling gives place to a certain degree of satisfaction that the public heart has been moved to provide so plenteously for the poor and demented of our kind. These thoughts suggested themselves at a recent visit to the alms-house, during the session of the Directors of the Poor. An interest in the management caused an examination of the premises, which although rather cursory was sufficiently minute to take in the arrangements for the comfort and security of the inmates of the institution, which so largely concerns the tax-payers who are called upon to foot the bills and are prone to find fault when their servants display lack of judgment and always grudgingly giving their approval when no fault can be found.

During the past year many improvements have been made in the buildings, chief of which was the renovation of the old building, partly occupied by the Steward. This building had been in use for many years and in addition to the Steward’s family, contained the quarters of a large number of those of the inmates who required no special attention beyond provision for their ordinary wants. The ravages of time, had, however, rendered the building insecure, and as it had long since ceased to be convenient for the purpose of its creation–and barely acceptable to the judgment of the State Board of Charities as a fit place for the part it was intended to perform–it was deemed necessary to make extensive repairs, which for completeness attest the good judgment of those in charge.

It sounds like they barely passed a state inspection. See my next post for a detailed description of the” improvements” to the buildings.

This link will take you to a previous post on York County expenditures for 1837, including an allotment for the almshouse.